Best Flashlights Reviewed & Rated for Quality

­­Even with cell phones having built-in flashlight controls, actual flashlights are king when it comes to lighting up an area. Whether full sized or in a special travel size, the new age of LED’s has changed how the market reacts to portability, lumens, battery power and even design. There are a lot of options available for users that want a starter kit or a pack of multiple flashlights in one. The variety is staggering, and the best part of all is that they are all low priced. It is the one thing the industry has adopted as one, and it has helped to propel some lesser known companies to the front of the pack.

Last Updated: July 19, 2018
By Taylor Belmer:

Recent updates were made to this buying guide in order to provide our readers with more insight on the best flashlights. In this update, you will find how we evaluated each flashlight and the criteria we utilized to pick out the best products for your consideration. We answered a few more questions and also added a few more ideas and things to consider before you purchase a flashlight. Check it out!

Featured Recommendations

Rockbirds RB-7W
  • Rockbirds RB-7W
  • 5 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Compact & reliable
  • Price: See Here
J5 Tactical V1-PRO
  • J5 Tactical V1-PRO
  • 4.6 out of 5
    Our rating
  • 800 ft Visibility
  • Price: See Here
Mizoo XML-T6
  • Mizoo XML-T6
  • 4.2 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Durable rechargeable battery
  • Price: See Here

There are no dominant brands in this industry, although there are a couple of standouts. Even if you mention big names like DeWalt, when it comes to this market there is still no clear winner. Big companies are about equal with the smaller companies in features, innovation, and pricing. Because there are no standout brands, this can be confusing for customers. With other products, you could stay loyal to a brand and purchase what they offer. But even if a company has built up brand loyalty, these products offer so many more choices than any other product on the market. This is one of the few times where putting brand loyalty aside is recommended in order to get the best product.

Other than cleaning the lens, these really don’t need any special cleaning methods. With that said, they lose a lot of their usefulness if the lens becomes dirty or not well maintained. And worse of all, if it gets cracked, they are much less effective. On the upside, LED models rarely have issues with their bulbs going out and are rated to last a lifetime if treated properly. So light dusting off with a microfiber towel will do the trick if it accumulates some dust, but nothing major is needed like a full tear down. The only other important maintenance tip is to never leave batteries in the device for extended periods of time without turning it on. If you go months without turning on the device while the batter is in, you risk leakage, battery degradation, and other common energy woes.

 

10 Best Flashlights

 

1. Rockbirds RB-7W

1. Rockbirds RB-7W
At the top of the list is Rockbirds with their top tier product. This mini version is the last pack on the list, and also the best.
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More Than A Double Pack

Beyond the default two pack, there is a four pack and a six pack available for purchase. That makes it a great item for families or groups that need multiple flashlights.

Features and Specifications

• Aluminum alloy casing
• Water resistant and skid-proof

Cost and Value

And the most surprising thing about this product is that it is low priced. That is a great value buy for the best on the list.
Pros

Comes in 2, 4 and 6 packs

Easy to adjust the light focus

This flash is both water resistant and skid-proof

Cons

Works better with Li-ion batteries

2. J5 Tactical V1-PRO

2. J5 Tactical V1-PRO
The #2 product on the list is one of the most favored by outdoorsman and hunters. As the V1-Pro gains more fame, it also shows that lumens aren’t the only feature a customer should pay attention to.
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Great Power Usage

Needing only a single AA battery to run, this is the most power efficient choice on the list. And for users that want a long-term solution, it is compatible with the 14500 rechargeable battery.

Features and Specification
• Comes in five different colors
• Can light up to 600 feet

Cost and Value

There is good value with this since it handles batteries well. With this model, you won’t have to worry about eating through multiple batteries every couple of weeks.
Pros

Great design

Only needs a single battery

This product comes in 5 different color options. 

Is powerful enough to light up to 600 feet

Cons

Built in clip is too tight

3. Mizoo XML-T6

3. Mizoo XML-T6
Featured in several places, the Mizoo LED flashlight combines a small frame and an incredible battery. It has the same kit features of the #4 product but improves on the idea with a better overall product.
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Great Batteries

A product that is dependable can’t do its job if the power isn’t there. The high-grade rechargeable lithium batteries and charger are the best of the best when it comes to reliability.

Features and Specifications

• Includes flashlight, case, batteries, and charger
• 1000 Lumens

Cost and Value

Count this as another one of those great deals for a kit, and another one that stays in the low price range. It has a great build that will last a lot longer than the other variants put in kits.
Pros

Best rechargeable batteries on the list

Hardened aluminum alloy body

This is built with 1000 lumens. 

This product comes with a case, batteries, and even a charger.

Cons

Batteries can be a pain to switch

4. PeakPlus PPLEDKIT1

4. PeakPlus PPLEDKIT1
This gets strong consideration for being the best on the list due to the extras it comes with. There are few that come out of the package with so many additional accessories.
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It’s All About The Extras

There are a lot of things included in the kit; a 18650 rechargeable battery, case and an AAA battery holder. It’s everything a user would want in a new kit.

Features and Specifications

• Skid-proof, water resistant and anti-abrasive
• Five light modes

Cost and Value

For a low price, users can get the entire kit, which is a tremendous value. In that regard, it is in a league of its own and is perfect for an emergency.
Pros

Great starter kit

High quality carrying case

This product is offered at a low price 

Cons

Plastic metal body

5. CVLIFE 118-T6

5. CVLIFE 118-T6
CVLIFE is a familiar name for most people, as they’re used to purchasing top products from the company. Buyers can count the XML T6 as another one of those quality products, and one of the best on the list overall.
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800 Lumens

This is one of the most powerful in a size this small. By using specialized LED’s, this really lives up to the hype when it needs to illuminate an area.


Features and Specifications


• The beam travels up to 700 feet
• Aluminum alloy construction

Cost and Value

Sporting a low price, consider this another great value in a long list of flashlight products. Even if the battery is a little flaky, it is easy and cheap to replace.
Pros

Built in safety battery

Weighs only 6.88 ounces

The light beam can travel up to 700 feet, which is quite impressive. 

Cons

Included 18650 Battery is hit or miss

6. Hausbell HB-7W-SDT

6. Hausbell  HB-7W-SDT
At first glance, this looks like an average 2 pack with regular modes. After using it for a bit, buyers realize that at the current price it’s a steal.
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A Great Light

With 300 Lumens to play with, there is no need to go to a larger product. This little portable monster can handle any related tasks just fine.

Features and Specifications

• Available in 3 different models
• Built-in zoom feature

Cost and Value

This is a really low-cost purchase, no matter which model you choose. The value of the buy will depend on if you need any of the modes that are missing from the main bundle.
Pros

Small and rugged

Super bright light

This product comes in 3 different models. 

This product is one of the most cost-friendly on our list today.

Cons

Less modes than some of the others

7. Streamlight 66118

7. Streamlight 66118
Buyers should consider this one of the more unconventional choices on the list, but one that has earned its spot. The Streamlight 66118 is the only pen-light on the list, and for good reason.
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The Most Portable Available

When it comes to portability, this product blows every other out of the water. It is the size of a pen but functions with the full power regular product.

Features and Specifications

• IPX4 water resistant
• 6.5 hour usage time

Cost and Value

This is one of the highest priced items on the list, but still low price. The value is great, but keep in mind that the #10 item can be purchased for less and contains four.
Pros

Comes in 6 different colors

Includes two AAA batteries

This product is considered the most portable on the market.

Can be used up to 6.5 hours at a time.

Cons

Only 90 lumens

8. LuxPower Tactical V1000

8. LuxPower Tactical V1000
Count this as another that comes in a pack, only this time the individual quality is a little better. LuxPower earns a spot on the list and really pushes a model that does a few things differently than the competition.
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Durable

The Tactical V1000 is a shock, water and weather resistant. It’s the toughest on the list and will handle more than its share of bumps and drops.

Features and Specifications

• Comes in a pack of 2
• 5 operating modes

Cost and Value

Any product that is this durable will always have a high value with customers. The price is low, and with it coming in a pack of two, the deal really stands out.
Pros

Can fit in a regular pocket

Super bright LED

Comes in a pack of 2

Product has 5 operation modes. 

Cons

Switching modes is a hassle

9. YIFENG XML-T6

9. YIFENG XML-T6
Some of the better parts of owning this are discovered weeks after owning it. The manual that comes with this Yifeng model does little justice to show just how polished of a product it is.
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Multiple Light Modes

They didn’t just create useless light modes, and instead loaded it up with modes that customers would actually use. You can choose from the strobe, high, middle, low and SOS.

Features and Specifications

• Adjustable focus
• Skid-proof and water resistant

Cost and Value

Whether you purchase the single pack or the double pack, the price is low. For such a small handheld item, it has a lot of useful light features that work in home and outside situations.
Pros

Can use a single rechargeable Li-on battery of 3 AAA batteries

Illuminates large areas

Comes with multiple light modes

This is skid-proof and water-resistant

Cons

No batteries included

10. BYB E-0429

10. BYB E-0429
Sometimes quantity is a great way to win over customers that are having a hard time making a buying decision. This is a great set for users with large homes that want to store their light in multiple locations.
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Pack Of Four

You can’t beat the value of four in one package, especially when they are good value. This is a strong selling point for customers that need a flashlight in their car, home, office, and garage.

Features and Specifications

• 150 Lumens
• High, low and strobe modes

Cost and Value

This is a really good value at a low price, and that isn’t even accounting for the quantity in this one pack. Buyers will get a lot of use out of these for a long time.
Pros

Option of different exterior colors

Impact and water resistant

Comes in high and low strobe modes. 

Cons

There are more powerful on the list

Criteria Used to Evaluate Flashlights

Our research went far beyond looking at lumens when deciding which flashlight was the best. Measuring on lumens wouldn’t exactly describe their brightness levels or the quality of the light. To handle the issue of light quality, we looked at multiple things to determine how to rank the products. Beyond that, it was an issue of batteries, extras and durability.

Light Quality

The first thing we rated products on was light quality, which was based on a smaller ranking of multiple subset specifications. Lumens, watts and area of the environment the light was able to reach were the determining factors with this criteria. Surprisingly, all that were equipped with compatible batteries passed this test with flying colors. This has a lot to do with LED as an innovation with light, and it just proves how rock solid the technology is across the board. In order to gain some separation with all of the choices when handling this criterion, we did a side by side comparisons of specifications and paired them with the actual visual data. This was the root of our list or at the very least the starting point.

Light Output

In this guide we discuss lumens, so you know that you can decide how strong you need your light to be in your circumstances. However, there is another thing to consider with light output, and that is how the light beams are delivered.

Flood light Vs Throw light

Flashlights are capable of delivering a light beam in a widespread “flood” or in a sharp, narrow beam. A majority of lights has a compromise between the two, but this is something to also consider. Do you want a wide span of light or a more precise beam? A thing to note is that if your flashlight does not specify, chances are that it is a compromise between the two.

Flood light has vast coverage that is great for close-up things such as a dark path, a campsite or the interior of a building.

Throw light is for specialty lighting, such as searching for something that is at a long distance. This can prove difficult for more common task.

Batteries

Batteries were up next, as we measured how long they lasted with each product at the highest settings. Power draw with most of the list was above average, with a couple of standouts showing that they remained bright even when the battery was running low. This was the most important battery usage feature to us, as the auto-dim option when on the low battery is more of a pain than it is a helper. Products that used every ounce of the battery even when it was on its last legs gained significant spots on the list. The only other battery test we ran had to do with how fast the rechargeable batteries reached full capacity. This only affected a small portion of the list, and was insignificant enough that not a lot of spots changed.

Extras & Durability

The last two things we looked at was related to extras and durability, both very important in the buying process. For extras, kits and packs were giving priority over the regular items on the list. That explains why the best product on the list is sold in packs, and it also points to the multiple starter kits on the list. They were a better value from the start, and all without increasing the already low price for the products that were available without kits or packs. We also considered modes to be part of the extras group, which dropped a considerable amount of choices off of the list as they lacked simple strobe and high/low options. Durability was based on resistance, as there were a lot of choices that had water, scratch and slip resistance out of the box. The slip resistance was a feature we valued more than water since all of the choices on the list are small/portable in size.  We still didn’t ignore the importance of water resistance with products on the list and adjusted the list accordingly. This also caused the most choices on the list to be dropped off, as they lacked the durability to be considered a valuable buy. All of the remaining products on the top ten are considered to be tough enough to handle drops and bad weather.

Maintenance Tips

If you have ever pulled out your flashlight when you have an emergency only to discover that it doesn’t work, you probably understand the need to keep your light well-maintained and in good working order. Keeping your product in good working order also ensures that you get the value you deserve from a product you have paid your hard earned cash for. The maintenance tips suggested below will help you lengthen the lifetime of your light.

Maintenance Involves Use

A common mistake that many people make is to think that maintaining one of these products involves the things you do after using it. When using one, especially the small ones, never use your mouth to hold it. This could get moisture into the product itself and moisture is an enemy of your light. If it happens that you are not able to use one of your hands to hold the flashlight, you can always ask someone to help you. If you are unable to ask someone to help, you would rather resort to a headlamp. Some also come with clips.

Dealing with Moisture

There is always moisture in the air. This makes it inevitable that there will be moisture sometimes on the actual casing or product. If you suspect that there is any moisture, ensure that you dry it at the earliest chance you get.

Many people argue that the light they have is water-resistant. Water resistance means that you can use the light in wet conditions but it does not mean you should literally keep it in water, which is in essence what you are doing if you do not deliberately get rid of the moisture on your light at the earliest possible moment.

Clean Off All the Dirt

Moisture is not the only thing you need to worry about. As you continue to use it, it accumulates dirt which you also need to clean. Leaving the dirt to accumulate over time makes it difficult to clean the light. A dirty light is difficult to hold when using it too. Dirty spaces can provide a good breeding ground for bacteria that could end up making you ill.

Cleaning Your Light

The materials you use to clean your light depend on the material from which it is made. If the material is durable, you can always use a heavy-duty cleaning material. However, always ensure that the substance you use will not end up ruining the material from which the light casing is made. Refer to your light’s handbook, it should tell you which substances are safe for cleaning your light. There are a number of online resources that you can also turn to for this information.

Batteries

Questions are often asked whether you should store yours with its batteries connected. The answer lies on how often you are planning to using it. If you use it frequently, then it is okay to leave the batteries inside. However, ensure that you test the batteries every time after you use your light.

If you do not use it too often, then you will need to keep the batteries out of the compartment. If you see any signs of corrosion on the battery compartment, then there is a possibility that there is battery leakage. This means that you should change the battery.
Threads

An area which is often neglected is the threading. Threads can be checked at six months intervals. The threads could include the big ones such as the ones you find in the battery cap or the ones on small screws. All these can accumulate rust over time and then become impossible to remove when you need to.

Wipe the threads with a thin layer of lubrication before you put the screws back. Ensure that you clean the lubrication on the body of the light itself as the lubrication can interfere with your grip.

Storage

Good storage for your product will help you to preserve it and keep it in good working order. Make sure that the case where it is stored is dry and cool. Do not only worry about keeping itself clean because if the case is not properly maintained it will deteriorate over time and will not be able to keep it safe.

Avoid high temperatures as they have the effect of quickening deterioration of the product. One of the problems you will start to experience if you store it in high temperatures is leakage of the battery.

Even if the temperature is not high, ensure that the product is not stored in direct sunlight. Most people who keep their items in motor vehicles generally keep them on the dashboard. This exposes the light to direct sunlight and in turn its integrity.

There are a number of other things you will need to consider with regards to the maintenance of your light such as always checking the overall condition of the light. This will involve looking for all the cracks and damages whether on the body, the wires or the glass.
It is also important to ensure that the bulb itself is clean and in good working order. Dirt and grime can accumulate on the bulb and overtime get heated. It is a good idea to keep a spare bulb so that you do not need to make that expensive trip to the shop when you are on a hunting escapade.

How will you carry it?

An important thing to consider with your flashlight is where you plan to use it and in which conditions you will use it. These factors matter because you need to be able to comfortably carry your flashlight. Hopefully, you have chosen a lightweight one, or are at least planning on it. Consider how it will fit into your lifestyle. Here are some common ways to carry your flashlight that could ultimately sway your decision making process:

Keychain

Although this option will call for a smaller sized flashlight, it is a very handy way to carry one. That said, you carry your keys with you all of the time, right? So, the chances that your flashlight will be on your person when you need it, are high. As long as it connects securely to your keys or a loop on your clothing, this option is very handy.

Pen Light

Pen lights are small and lightweight options to consider. Again, the small size can be a setback. But, if that is something that you can look past and get away with, then this type of flashlight is a great option! What is better than something that can fit into your pocket without a problem or pack into any or all of your gear? These are generally longer than a keychain light, but are just as easy to carry.

Headlamps

Okay, we do not cover these on this list, but they are still a viable option. If your lifestyle or activity calls for all-hands-on, then keep them freed up by wearing a headlamp. From camping, to cave spelunking to backyard work, headlamps are a great tool.

Pack/Toolbox

Generally, any flashlight that cannot be carried anywhere other than in your gear pack, toolbox, trunk, etc., is likely to be pretty heavy-duty and large in size. That’s totally fine, especially if that is the kind of light output power that you need. However, it takes a bit more planning on your end with how you will carry it and keep it in easy access when you need it most.

 

Switch Types

Just like how you should consider how you will carry your flashlight, the type of on/off switch might seem small, but it can be important for you and your lifestyle. You do not want to get into a situation where you need light but you cannot figure out how to turn on the flashlight or you are caught up putzing with it. Here are a few types to consider:

Tail click

The tail click on/off switch is convenient for one-handed use. It allows you to turn on or off quickly. However, this switch type doesn’t always allow you to tail-stand the light and if you bump it just right, could accidentally turn on, perhaps in a time when you do not want it too.

Twist top

Twist tops are common on keychain lights. These require you to twist the head of the light to turn it on. This style requires two hands, so keep that in mind. The two-hands needed to turn it on keeps the risk of accidental activation very low, though.

Side click

This option may be the best one, simply because it is a quick, one-click option that also is at low risk of accidentally activating. Generally, this style is found in either a push-button or a slide switch while you carry it in a thumb-forward position.

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What Are Lumens?

Simply put, high lumens usually means a brighter product. Some judge by watts, but the easier way to go about it is to look at the lumens if you want to judge its brightness. Now, where it gets complicated is by not factoring in watts when looking at lumens. Watts measure energy use while lumens measure light output. So technically a high lumen with low watts won’t really be as bright as you expect it to be. Finding a balance between the two will really help determine the real brightness, and it will also keep you from being surprised after a purchase.

Q: Is Smaller Better?

There is nothing wrong with heavy duty products, yet consumers shouldn’t ignore the advances in the technology of their smaller variants. When comparing cost between the two, the value of the smaller ones will always win out. They are all low priced, and most of all they are used in emergency situations just as much as casual situations. Major features that were exclusive to bigger ones have now been done better by the smaller versions, with a lot of companies adding their own special touches where necessary. The other pro of the smaller versions is better battery cost and usage, in both short and long-term ownership.

Q: How Does A Low Battery Affect The Quality?

A low battery can cause low brightness levels even when you have it set to maximum. This is a big deal for a lot of people since every product has its own mechanism that kicks in this low power mode. On some cheaper batteries, the brightness will be affected even when there is adequate charge in the battery. Sticking to recommended one use and rechargeable brands can combat this issue, but it will also depend heavily on the model. A bad model might not be able to fully utilize a good battery. So even a high lumen product can be a bit dim if the internal mechanisms are cheap and not capable of steady power draw from the battery.

Q: What’s So Great About LED?

The many benefits of LED technology start with their cost efficiency. That is why LED products are cheaper than regular bulbs in price, yet have a higher quality light. They are also lightweight and last longer than a regular bulb, with evolving technology that keeps improving every year. So technically, the price of LED items will stay the same or continue to drop while the technology thrives each year. Their small form factor also makes them ideal to carry in your pocket, glove box or any other storable area without adding extra bulk. All of the qualities needed for a powerful light are available when you move forward with LED technology.

Q: Are Ratings Important?

A: No, and that is due to there being no widespread industry standard. So if a brand labels their product as being the brightest available based on anything other than lumens+watts, then it is nothing more than marketing. Brands often overstate their brightness ratings to attract new customers while pairing them with unrelated infatuated numbers. Advanced users even go beyond lumens+watts and use Calibrated Integration Sphere to get the most accurate rating of brightness. Customers can use either one of these methods to get a good understand of what it can do. But remember, the same LED technology is available to every single brand in the industry. No one company has a special LED that outclasses another company’s.

Q: Should You Only Purchase With Rechargeable Options?

A: Some can eat away at even good brand name batteries, so having rechargeable options ready can be a lifesaver. Not all companies include rechargeable batteries, so make sure to check what’s included before purchasing. Specialized rechargeable batteries are easy to find, and will usually be CR123 or 18650. There are others that come shipped with the package, but their quality will vary. Rechargeable batteries lose their power over time, yet they still are a better option since they keep you from having to buy brand new batteries. And if you go through regular one-time batteries a lot, having rechargeable batteries can save you a lot of money per year.

Q: Are Kits Worth It?

A: Starting kits are an increasingly enticing value even to owners. They usually include a carrying case and extra batteries. There are a lot of cost savings upfront for this type of package, and there is also a lot of value in it for customers that travel a lot. The case keeps everything related to the product in one place until it’s ready for use, while the rechargeable batteries keep you from having to splurge on expensive brand names throughout the life of the product. And the best part about these kits is that they aren’t that much more expensive than just buying by itself.

Q: Is There A Benefit To Buying A Pack?

A: Yes, and not only for families or camping groups. Having these strategically around the house is a great way to get through a power outage or heavy storm. It’s also a safer option than keeping candles and matches handy while allowing for much more freedom of movement in and outside of the house. With that being said, there are a lot of groups that purchase it for camping trips rather than buying single units for each member. Just like starter kits, the price isn’t that much different from the base product and well worth investing in. With a lot of companies expanding the amount they pack together, the value of a pack continues to grow.

Q: Is It Safe To Mix Batteries?

A: Mixing battery brands is never a good idea, and can even cause major injury. In a worst-case scenario, mixed batteries can explode due to their differences. And even when it isn’t that drastic, there are a lot of small issues that could creep up and make it not worth your while. Mixed batteries aren’t fully utilized to their fullest potential in any product, that means the light will be dimmer than what it should be. Getting the correct setup with your batteries is vital to getting the most potential out of your product, so try to stay away from mixing batteries.

Q: How Does An LED Compare To A Phone’s Software Version?

A: It can be tempting to use the LED version built into new age smartphones since they are so handy. Brands have even begun to assign a quick button feature for smartphones. But where handhelds win is with their modes like a strobe, SOS, and the ability to change the brightness. Smartphones have one set brightness, and even with their larger batteries are prone to burning through them faster than regular products. Buyers also run the risk of damaging their LED flash on their smartphones if they leave it on too long, a risk that isn’t there when you use a handheld one.

How To Make The Best Decision

While lumens are important, you shouldn’t take lightly how valuable it is to have a tough body. The design will decide just how tough it is in real-world conditions, which could make the difference between a product that lasts a couple of months, and one that lasts a lifetime. Modern products use LED’s, so expect for the bulbs to be the last thing you have to worry about. There is nothing wrong with not wanting to get an LED, but be aware that it also means maintenance will be higher. Battery type and usage is something else that should be prioritized, with many options in the industry offering single use and rechargeable options.

Sources

  1. Energizer: How Do Flashlights Work?
  2. Best Flashlight REport: The Parts of a Flashlight
  3. Streamlight: Guide to Choosing the Right Flashlight
  4. REI: How to Choose Flashlights
  5. Flashlights – Things to Consider Before You Buy
  6. How To Find The Perfect LED Flashlight
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